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How to Avoid Probate: A Comprehensive Guide

March 14, 2023

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone passes away. It involves the court overseeing the distribution of the deceased's assets and paying off any outstanding debts. This can be a lengthy and costly process, often taking months or even years to complete. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid probate altogether. In this article, we'll explore some of the most effective ways to do so.

Create a Living Trust

One of the most popular ways to avoid probate is by creating a living trust. This legal document allows you to transfer ownership of your assets into the trust while you're still alive. The trust then becomes the owner of those assets, and when you pass away, they are distributed according to your wishes without going through probate.

Joint Ownership

Another way to avoid probate when it comes to real property is by jointly owning the property with someone else as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. When one owner passes away, their share automatically transfers to the surviving owner without going through probate. This method works best for spouses who own property together.

Payable-on-Death Accounts

Payable-on-death (POD) accounts are bank accounts that allow you to name a beneficiary who will receive the funds in the account when you pass away. These accounts avoid probate because they transfer ownership directly to your beneficiary upon your death.

Transfer-on-Death Accounts

Similar to POD accounts, transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts allow you to name a beneficiary who will receive ownership of your investment accounts when you pass away. This method avoids probate because it transfers ownership directly to your beneficiary without going through court.


You can also avoid probate by giving away your assets as gifts while you're still alive. By doing so, those assets no longer belong to you and won't be subject to probate upon your death.

In conclusion, there are several ways to avoid probate and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. Creating a living trust, joint ownership with rights of survivorship, payable-on-death accounts, transfer-on-death accounts and gifting are all effective strategies for avoiding this time-consuming and expensive legal process. It's important to consult with an attorney before making any decisions regarding estate planning and asset distribution.

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Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals—like bedtimes and game night—that you do together.